Village Voices: A Memoir of the Village Voice Bookstore, Paris, 1982-2012

Village Voices

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Odile Hellier
A celebration of the legacy of the Village Voice bookshop in Paris, founded by Odile Hellier in 1982

This collective memoir brings to life a literary history of a heady time in Paris, capturing a myriad of voices for whom “literature was not just a pastime but the very stuff of life.”

Village Voices is a collective memoir that brings to life the authors, publishers, and friends who frequented one of the most famous English-Language bookshops in Paris—the Village Voice bookshop. Founded by Odile Hellier in 1982, Village Voice was a hub for artists, writers, and anglophone literary life for over three decades. Told through the voices of artists that were reckoning, preserving, challenging, and archiving the time and languages that they lived in, this carefully curated collection, organized thematically, encapsulates some of the most important reflections and debates of 20th century literary history. From Allen Ginsberg to Toni Morrison, Michael Ondaatje, Raymond Carver, and Amy Tan, Hellier preserves the decades-long vibrant readings and dialogues that took place in this tiny bookshop on the Rue Princesse.

    Hellier mines decades of archival footage to present anecdotes and insight from the spontaneous and informal exchanges that occurred among generations of literary and cultural icons. These artists present a multidimensional landscape of Parisian literary history in dialogue with American and global literary conversation. The book is a life-long curatorial project, a conversation across time, and a historical archive, created by a bookseller seeking to preserve the history of her much-loved bookshop.

“A stroll from rue de l’Odéon, Les Deux Magots or the Luxembourg Gardens, the hanging sign reads Village Voice: Anglo-American Bookshop. The narrow door and window frames are painted Greek island blue… Lingering a while in front of the window display, you’ll want to dive inside, into an ocean of story.” —Hazel Rowley, Bookforum
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